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I work for a rug manufacturer in the same office as the photographers for our online sales. They take all photos of rugs in house. They have a tremendous amount of post processing that has to be done on every single photo in order to match the colors. So my question is this Would there be a way to set up their studio that could get the correct color of every rug? Keep in mind that we have some of every color rug.

Their current setup is professional lighting with daylight bulbs shining onto a grey concrete floor. They use various setting of aperture, iso, and shutter speed.

Also, I realize some things will have to change with the size of the rug. If I'm thinking right the larger rugs would need to be taken through a larger aperture from a constant distance in order to get the sharpest result. And smaller rugs would need a smaller aperture. So if someone could address that aspect as well it would be helpful.

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Using a color reference card, like an X-Rite Color Checker, may be something to add to the workflow if it's not already being used. Having a reference against which you can correct the color values helps with getting the color consistent and accurate, vs. correction via eyeballing. Creating camera profiles with the reference card is also very useful, because different cameras can render colors differently. You may also need to calibrate the monitor being used to process the images.

To reduce the aperture setting to get good sharpness and a deeper depth of field, flash can be a useful tool. Unlike continuous lights, you can typically get a lot more light to work with, and you won't have to rely on slower shutter speeds which can bring the possibility of blur from camera shake, unless the camera's used on a sturdy tripod.

  • Flash also has the advantage of being fairly well balanced, even spectrum lighting that can be consistently repeated. – Michael C Apr 6 '16 at 22:13
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Turn OFF auto white balance in the camera.

Auto white balance works on the assumption that the world is grey. Some smarter cameras look for oval blobs, assume they are faces, and try to get that to a nice skin colour.

Once the auto balance is off, you should get far more consistent shots.

Paint the room medium to dark grey.

Consider: You're shooting a pix of a red carpet. All the light reflecting off it has a red bias. That hits the walls, bounces off. That light is also illuminating the carpet, increasing the redness.

With dark grey room, you have less secondary illumination.

Shoot against a dark background

This should be a light charcoal grey. Darker than a greycard, lighter than black. The contrast in vibrancy will show your rug's colours.

You can have several floors of laminate planks, one dark, one medium, and one light wood, as well as the current fashion of whitewash/bleached colours, but your rugs will look more vivid against the black walnut than they will against the natural maple.

Use some point lighting

Uniform lighting is bland. Point lighting (Halogen bulbs, small LED sources...) bring out the texture of the carpet.

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Including a white balance card in a test picture of the rug should help greatly (card in same light as the rug). Then you simply click the white balance tool on that card to remove any color cast from the lighting. Apply this correction to all session pictures (in same lighting). This of course assumes all of your lighting is of the same type, no mixed lighting.

You may also want to set the camera to its Neutral color profile setting, instead of Vivid or Landscape.

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